32,544 miles. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, that’s how many miles I drove inspection to inspection last year. 32,544 miles. Whaaat? That’s insane! How many normal non-professional drivers log 32,544 miles in a year. Wait a minute. I’m talking about me. Forget the “normal” comment.
Seriously, though, the number surprised even me. Then I ran the numbers. Each round trip from New York to Maine is just shy of 1,200 miles –by eight miles — and given a trip per month, that’s over 14,000 miles. Add in about 1,200 miles exploring the Pine Tree State and we’re well over 15,000. A trip back to Paterson tags on 500. Three visits to Ohio (my grandson Ryan’s graduation; my grandson Zack and Khristine’s wedding; and Thanksgiving) contributed 2,500 miles. A trip to Landover, MD, for a football game added 600 and change. The balance — about 12,500 — is just normal running around in a rural area. That’s a lot of Pandora and iHeart Radio.
My oldest son commented, “At 60 mph that means you lived in your car about a month!” Maybe that’s why my car has that “lived in” look. But I would be more concerned about letting my thoughts out in free range mode.
I actually enjoy my time behind the wheel. In a strange demented way, it relaxes me. It’s more than getting from point A to point B. It’s a never-ending kaleidoscope of sights and sounds and seasons. It’s where I think and reflect.
Other than driving in New York City, I think driving in New Jersey offers, shall we say, the most challenges. See, in New Jersey, drivers aren’t bad, but they are impatient and unpredictable. They can’t decide whether to drive 10 miles over or under the speed limit. They can’t decide what lane to be in. They can’t decide whether to pass on the right or the left. They tend to speed up when the speed limit drops and slow down when it increases. It’s a good thing I learned how to drive in northern New Jersey.
For the second time in my last two trips on the Garden State Parkway, I witnessed a vehicle fully engulfed in flames. The northbound lanes [where I was] slowed down to gawk [me included] while the southbound lane was closed as emergency personnel did their thing. As an update, the driver was badly injured when his 2000 GMC Jimmy sport utility vehicle flipped over and caught fire in the southbound median.
Navigation is just as unpredictable. On my return from the shore this weekend, Google maps didn’t reverse the course down [81 to 380 to PA 33 to 78 to 287 to GSP] , but had me stay on the GSP to 280 to 80 to 380 to 81. Supposedly it was one minute faster. Actually, it was the first time I had ever been on 280, which winds its way through the Oranges and Caldwells.
I’m well on my way for the new year with a 616 mile adventure to Seaside Heights for First Night Ocean County. When I unfetter myself from newspaper duties, watch out. There will be nothing stopping me from the open road. In fact, I would love to make a cross country trip from sea to shining sea catching up with family and friends scattered along the way. I sure wish I had a co-pilot … not necessarily for the company but to keep my free range thoughts somewhat penned up.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: There is a joining of the mind and heart, a letting go of the offense and its memory. Another word for this is grace.